Sunday, September 23, 2012

Time for a garden tidy

I'm trying to pretend that autumn isn't happening. In my head I'm sitting at the patio table with a Pimms in hand flicking through the latest Gardeners' World, whereas in reality I'm peering out from the kitchen, watching the chickens shelter from the rain beyond the dogwood bushes whose leaves are slowly turning an autumnal shade of red.

So, in a brief few hours on sunshine yesterday, I started my garden tidy. Well, hubby started it while I sat at the patio table sowing some hardy annual seeds. As you can see, it was warm enough for a refreshing glass of shandy! These seed trays will go into the cold frame over winter and shouldn't need pricking out until early spring.

During a clearing of an untidy border, this little chap put in an appearance. My internet searches have identified him (or her?) as a common frog rather than a toad. But if any herpetologists out there know better, then I'm happy to be corrected.

As part of the tidy-up, I braved the tying-in of this years new tayberry shoots. It put me in mind of wrestling a particularly spiny snake. This lovely plant has grown three impressive new shoots during this year and these will fruit in 2013. I implemented my 'Loch Ness monster' formation again, which looks a little convoluted, but allows me to train 3m shoots onto a 1m length of fence. I also buried the end of the longest shoot to experiment with a bit of 'tip layering'. Hopefully I will have a baby plant to pass on to a deserving garden next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When I'm not gardening...

I have a very good reason for my posts to have been a bit...shall we say...thin on the ground this summer. Yes, I was revising for my latest round of RHS exams but I was also involved in the wonderful showcase of sport that hit London - the Olympic and Paralympic Games!

Now, although I was pretty handy with a hockey stick in my uni years, this talent did not stay with me on my journey into adulthood. I have finally come to terms with the fact that I may never compete for Team GB - but I did manage to get into the Olympic stadium. In fact, right onto the 'field of play'. (Disclaimer - no, that wasn't me gate crashing the India team parade...)

Sometime late in 2011, I happened upon a website that called for volunteers to fulfil a role that would, to roll out a much-used cliche, be a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity. And after a couple of attendances at a secret location in East London and a few months of waiting for an email, I was finally rewarded with the news that I'd been offered a role in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
The list of rehearsal times was extensive. For a period during July, we were rehearsing 3 times a week for 4 -5 hours at a time. But it was fabulous fun, meeting a wide range of people who had all volunteered their time with enthusiasm. And none of us really knowing what we'd let ourselves in for.
So, after 5 weeks of rehearsals in a film studio in Bow and 2 weeks rehearsing in the world's biggest car park in Dagenham, and the issuing of a plethora of access and accreditation passes, we hit the Olympic stadium for our first on-site rehearsal.

All too soon the night itself arrived. Backstage, in the warren of corridors, areas and rooms beneath the stadium seating, was a buzz of excitement. We were in our 'holding area' for hours, having arrived at the stadium at 3pm for a last minute addition to our choreography. The scheduled time for our part of the performance was 10.30pm, but as the athletes parade overran we were still waiting to go on at 11pm.

A lot of time was spent waiting in the wings, peering out at the show through any available open door or trying to evade security by getting upstairs to the media area where we'd managed to watch most of the dress rehearsal a few days before.

At long last it was time to move. Led to our area we got a glimpse of the vast audience flickering with camera flashes as another cast section headed out into the arena amid cheers and whistles from the rest of us.

And suddenly we were out there ourselves! (and I managed to find myself on a couple of photos on the internet...)

photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr
photo from Flickr 
photo from Flickr
 It was an amazing night and I have lots of fantastic memories from it. As well as a black and white costume that I am wondering on what occasion I might wear again...

I'm on the right...